2 Kings 8:16-10
16Now in the 5th year of Joram the son of Ahab, king of Israel, Jehoshaphat having been king of Judah, Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat began to reign as king of Judah. 17He was 32 years old when he became king, and he reigned 8 years in Jerusalem. 18And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, just as the house of Ahab had done, for the daughter of Ahab was his wife; and he did evil in the sight of the Lord. 19Yet the Lord would not destroy Judah, for the sake of his servant David, as He promised him to give a lamp to him and his sons forever.
Jehoshaphat was a good & godly king. His one error was a willingness to make alliances with the wicked kings of Israel.
This opened a door in the southern kingdom of Judah to the idolatry that had infected Israel.
When Jehoshaphat died, his son Jehoram became king.
He married Ahab & Jezebel’s daughter – Athaliah; who was a real piece of work like her mother.
Because of Athaliah’s influence, the worship of Baal & Asherah were installed in Judah.
The lesson of Jehoshaphat’s reign is that we must never compromise our commitment to the Lord for the sake of political gain.
20In his days [Jehoram’s reign] Edom revolted against Judah’s authority, and made a king over themselves. 21So Joram went to Zair, [on the border between Judah & Edom] and all his chariots with him. Then he rose by night and attacked the Edomites who had surrounded him and the captains of the chariots; and the troops fled to their tents. 22Thus Edom has been in revolt against Judah’s authority to this day. And Libnah revolted at that time.
Just as Moab was a vassal state to Israel, Edom bordering Judah on the east, was a vassal to Judah.
Turning from God resulted in political weakness, which the Edomites exploited in a bid to regain independence.
Jehoram was unable to regain control. His army was routed.
Libnah was a priestly town in the middle of Judah.
Being filled with those loyal to God, Libnah rebelled against Jehoram’s evil reign.
This is an indication many of the people of Judah remained faithful to Yahweh even when wicked kings ruled.
23Now the rest of the acts of Joram, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
Indeed they are – & there’s a lot more to tell about this looser, but we’ll leave that till our study in Chronicles.
24So Joram rested with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the City of David. Then Ahaziah his son reigned in his place.
Don’t miss who this Ahaziah is – the grandson of Ahab & Jezebel!
25In the 12th year of Joram the son of Ahab, king of Israel, Ahaziah the son of Jehoram, king of Judah, began to reign. 26Ahaziah was 22 years old when he became king, and he reigned 1 year in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Athaliah the granddaughter of Omri, [daughter of Ahab] king of Israel. 27And he walked in the way of the house of Ahab, and did evil in the sight of the Lord, like the house of Ahab, for he was the son-in-law of the house of Ahab.
Son-in-law = accurate by Jewish reckoning – but in our thinking, his father Jehoram was the son-in-law,
Ahaziah was Ahab’s grandson by his daughter Athaliah.
28Now he went with Joram the son of Ahab to war against Hazael king of Syria at Ramoth Gilead; and the Syrians wounded Joram. 29Then King Joram went back to Jezreel to recover from the wounds which the Syrians had inflicted on him at Ramah, when he fought against Hazael king of Syria. And Ahaziah the son of Jehoram, king of Judah, went down to see Joram the son of Ahab in Jezreel, because he was sick.
Ramoth was the key city of the region known as Gilead, which was a fertile & strategic region on the Eastern side of the Jordan.
It was the perennial battleground between Israel & Syria – today we know it as the Golan Heights.
In yet another alliance between Israel & Judah, they managed to take Ramoth from the Syrians who counter attacked & tryied to take it back.
Jehoram, king of Israel was wounded & withdrew to Jezreel to recover.
King Ahaziah of Judah went to visit him because Jehoram was his uncle.
1And Elisha the prophet called one of the sons of the prophets, and said to him, “Get yourself ready, take this flask of oil in your hand, and go to Ramoth Gilead. 2Now when you arrive at that place, look there for Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat, the son of Nimshi, and go in and make him rise up from among his associates, and take him to an inner room. 3Then take the flask of oil, and pour it on his head, and say, ‘Thus says the Lord: “I have anointed you king over Israel.” ’ Then open the door and flee, and do not delay.”
Jehu was the commander left in charge of the battle with the Syrians at Ramoth Gilead when the wounded king returned to recuperate at Jezreel.
Elisha sent an anonymous messenger instead of going himself, telling him as soon as he finished anointing Jehu he was to split, because all the emphasis was to remain on the message – not the messenger.
Elisha knew if the young prophet stayed, Jehu would press him for more info, and the young man would feel obliged to say something – so offering up his own wisdom & counsel instead of speaking on behalf of God.
So Elisha gave him clear instructions à anoint Jehu, give him God’s message–then split.
4So the young man, the servant of the prophet, went to Ramoth Gilead. 5And when he arrived, there were the captains of the army sitting; and he said, “I have a message for you, Commander.” Jehu said, “For which one of us?” And he said, “For you, Commander.”
Jehu was the commander in chief of the army of Israel – just as Omri had been when he staged a coup d'état. Turn about is fair play as Jehu now will bring an end to the Omride Dynasty.
6Then he arose and went into the house. And he poured the oil on his head, and said to him, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘I have anointed you king over the people of the Lord, over Israel. 7You shall strike down the house of Ahab your master, that I may avenge the blood of My servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the Lord, at the hand of Jezebel. 8For the whole house of Ahab shall perish; and I will cut off from Ahab all the males in Israel, both bond and free. 9So I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah. 10The dogs shall eat Jezebel on the plot of ground at Jezreel, and there shall be none to bury her.’ ” And he opened the door and fled.
There’s a clear message to Jehu in these words – God is giving him the opportunity to get it right!
He’s to exact justice on the wicked house of Ahab who’s brutalized the faithful.
All Ahab’s & Jezebel’s progeny are to be wiped out.
But Jehu is reminded how each previous dynasty of Israel has gone down in flames because it failed to worship Yahweh & turned to idols.
The implication was clear; if Jehu allowed idolatry to flourish, his dynasty too would pass.
11Then Jehu came out to the servants of his master, [the other commanders] and one said to him, “Is all well? Why did this madman come to you?”
Notice how these military-types refer to a faithful man of God.
And he said to them, “You know the man and his babble.” 12And they said, “A lie! Tell us now.”
There was no conviction or scorn in Jehu’s insult of the prophet.
These guys could see something important had happened & pressed him to give it up.
So he said, “Thus and thus he spoke to me, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord: “I have anointed you king over Israel.” ’ ” 13Then each man hastened to take his garment and put it under him on the top of the steps; and they blew trumpets, saying, “Jehu is king!”
Though these captains had little regard for the prophet, his message was a spark that lit their resolve to see Jehu enthroned.
These men had served under Ahab who was a brilliant military leader.
His 2 sons were inept by comparison. Israel was losing territory to the Moabites & others.
They longed for someone who could return Israel to its glory days under Omri & Ahab.
Jehu, they thought, was just the one to do it.
And with the entire military at their back, the success of the coup was assured.
14So Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat, the son of Nimshi, conspired against Joram. (Now Joram had been defending Ramoth Gilead, he and all Israel, against Hazael king of Syria. 15But King Joram had returned to Jezreel to recover from the wounds which the Syrians had inflicted on him when he fought with Hazael king of Syria.) And Jehu said, “If you are so minded, let no one leave or escape from the city to go and tell it in Jezreel.”
They wanted to make sure no loyalist beat them back to Jezreel wi news of the coup or Jehoram would be able to shut the city tight, forcing a siege Jehu & his comrades were not prepared for.
In order for a coup d'état to succeed, there has to be the element of conspiracy & surprise.
16So Jehu rode in a chariot and went to Jezreel, for Joram was laid up there; and Ahaziah king of Judah had come down to see Joram. 17Now a watchman stood on the tower in Jezreel, and he saw the company of Jehu as he came, and said, “I see a company of men.” And Joram said, “Get a horseman and send him to meet them, and let him say, ‘Is it peace?’ ”
Seeing the army returning from Gilead would mean either defeat at the hands of the Syrians or that a truce had been worked out.
Jehoram wanted to know which it was – or was Jehu bringing the army for some other purpose?
18So the horseman went to meet him, and said, “Thus says the king: ‘Is it peace?’ ” And Jehu said, “What have you to do with peace? Turn around and follow me.” So the watchman reported, saying, “The messenger went to them, but is not coming back.” 19Then he sent out a 2nd horseman who came to them, and said, “Thus says the king: ‘Is it peace?’ ” And Jehu answered, “What have you to do with peace? Turn around and follow me.” 20So the watchman reported, saying, “He went up to them and is not coming back; and the driving is like the driving of Jehu the son of Nimshi, for he drives furiously!” 21Then Joram said, “Make ready.” And his chariot was made ready. Then Joram king of Israel and Ahaziah king of Judah went out, each in his chariot; and they went out to meet Jehu, and met him on the property of Naboth the Jezreelite.
Ahhh – wonderful foreshadowing! Remember the words of Micaiah the prophet who denounced Ahab for his murder of Naboth so he could acquire this plot of land.
22Now it happened, when Joram saw Jehu, that he said, “Is it peace, Jehu?” So he answered, “What peace, as long as the harlotries of your mother Jezebel and her witchcraft are so many?” 23Then Joram turned around and fled, and said to Ahaziah, “Treachery, Ahaziah!” 24Now Jehu drew his bow with full strength and shot Jehoram between his arms; and the arrow came out at his heart, and he sank down in his chariot. 25Then Jehu said to Bidkar his captain, “Pick him up, and throw him into the tract of the field of Naboth the Jezreelite; for remember, when you and I were riding together behind Ahab his father, that the Lord laid this burden upon him: 26‘Surely I saw yesterday the blood of Naboth and the blood of his sons,’ says the Lord, ‘and I will repay you in this plot,’ says the Lord. Now therefore, take and throw him on the plot of ground, according to the word of the Lord.”
Jehu had been in attendance when Micaiah had prophesied of Ahab’s downfall, saying his blood would flow into the soil he’d stolen from the innocent.
Well, Ahab’s blood indeed DID spill onto the ground there – from the wounds of his son Jehoram.
27But when Ahaziah king of Judah saw this, he fled by the road to Beth Haggan. So Jehu pursued him, and said, “Shoot him also in the chariot.” And they shot him at the Ascent of Gur, which is by Ibleam. Then he fled to Megiddo, and died there. 28And his servants carried him in the chariot to Jerusalem, and buried him in his tomb with his fathers in the City of David. 29In the eleventh year of Joram the son of Ahab, Ahaziah had become king over Judah.
Jehu also went after Ahaziah because he was a descendant of Ahab & Jezebel, who he was under orders to wipe out.
30Now when Jehu had come to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it; and she put paint on her eyes and adorned her head, and looked through a window. 31Then, as Jehu entered at the gate, she said, “Is it peace, Zimri, murderer of your master?”
Ouch! The name of “Zimri” had become a byword for lowdown treachery.
Remember, he was the guy who’d assassinated King Elah.
This would be similar to us calling someone a Benedict Arnold.
But the insult was doubly harsh because Zimri was despised by the people & only reigned for a week – being booted by Omri, Jezebel’s father in law.
In light of her insult hurled at Jehu, it’s clear her dolling herself up wasn’t a ploy to seduce him, which is how some guys would have attempted to gain legitimacy for their throne; marry the previous king’s wife.
Neither Jezebel nor Jehu were interested in that.
She knew she was done for, so she showed her utter disdain by fixing herself up as though it was just another day in the kingdom.
She has some chutzpah. [murdering parents; then throwing self on mercy of court because orphan]
32And he looked up at the window, and said, “Who is on my side? Who?” So 2 or 3 eunuchs looked out at him. 33Then he said, “Throw her down.” So they threw her down, and some of her blood spattered on the wall and on the horses; and he trampled her underfoot. 34And when he had gone in, he ate and drank. Then he said, “Go now, see to this accursed woman, and bury her, for she was a king’s daughter.”
Jezebel was the daughter of Ethbaal, Phoenician king of Tyre.
As Jehu celebrates his victory, the weight of rule settles on him & he begins to rethink some things.
While he’s shown total disdain for Jehoram & Jezebel, letting their bodies go unburied, now that he’s king, he realizes it’s not smart to let the respect for royalty to go down.
It’s in his interest to encourage respect for royalty – so he sends out a burial detail to take care of Jezebel’s body.
35So they went to bury her, but they found no more of her than the skull and the feet and the palms of her hands. 36 Therefore they came back and told him. And he said, “This is the word of the Lord, which He spoke by His servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, ‘On the plot of ground at Jezreel dogs shall eat the flesh of Jezebel; 37 and the corpse of Jezebel shall be as refuse on the surface of the field, in the plot at Jezreel, so that they shall not say, “Here lies Jezebel.” ’ ”
Dogs weren’t household pets at this time; they were wild scavengers who roved in packs and kep the streets clean of garbage.
They’d made quick work of Jezebel – in the end she was Alpo.
The only thing the burial team found was her skull, which the dogs had not had time to drag off, and her feet & hands.
Why these were left may be because of the practice of tattooing the worshippers of Baal often did.
Women would tattoo their feet & hands with dyes that were very bitter.
Now – Was Jezebel a good woman, a hero; someone we ought to respect as a great person with a broad mind & great virtue?
Yesterday on NPR, they interviewed Lesley Hazleton, author of a new book Jezebel: The Untold Story of the Bible's Harlot Queen.
I wanted to scream – actually, I DID! Hazelton says the traditional view of Jezebel is inaccurate.
Jezebel was actually a dynamic diplomat who was trying to bring seculsionist, religiously fundamentalist Israel out of it’s isolation & into the great culture of the ancient Middle East.
Hazleton says that by bringing the worship of Baal & Asherah to Israel Jezebel was attempting to bring multiculturalism to the narrow-minded & intolerant Jews.
She says when Scripture refers to her as a “harlot” it’s because the writers of the Bible knew sex sells – & they were just trying to sell Bibles.
Which is absolutely ludicrous because when the text was originally penned, there was no printing press & no market for Bibles!
Such outrageousness does of course, sell books today! So now we know why Hazelton makes u0p such idiocy.
Hazelton says that the battle between Jezebel & Elijah [oops, not Elijah Wood] was really a battle between Monotheism & Polytheism, & that as a polytheist, Jezebel was a pluralist – which as you well know in today’s politically correct environment means she was tolerant, liberal, broad-minded.
Elijah, her foe, was an uneducated, radical fundamentalist nutcase.
Question – if Jezebel was such a broad-minded pluralist, why did she embark on a campaign to wipe out the worship of Yahweh by tearing down his altars & killing His priests & all who worshipped Him?
Well because – it was an ancient War on Terror & Elijah was the Osama bin Laden of his day while the followers of Yahweh were Al Qaeda.
She was only doing what any caring ruler would do to protect the good people of Israel.
In a positive review of the book we find this –
And there you have it – the real frame of reference for the author’s ideas – not history, not what the actual records tell us, but because we’re smarter & better than those poor losers of history, we’ll read back on to the story our own contemporary ideas of the way things ought to be and have been.
You see, there isn’t a shred, not one piece of hard historical evidence to support Hazelton’s ideas.
She is bereft of evidence – but in the modern view of how to study history, evidence is of no concern.
Our politically sanitized secular humanism is all the equipment we need to know history.
How does God intend us to evaluate Jezebel?
The answer is found in the Book of Revelation where her name becomes synonymous with evil & idolatry.
Let’s see – Evil or Hero? / Hazelton or God? Think I’ll go with God.
1Now Ahab had 70 sons in Samaria. And Jehu wrote and sent letters to Samaria, to the rulers of Jezreel, to the elders, and to those who reared Ahab’s sons, saying: 2Now as soon as this letter comes to you, since your master’s sons are with you, and you have chariots and horses, a fortified city also, and weapons, 3choose the best qualified of your master’s sons, set him on his father’s throne, and fight for your master’s house.
Jehu is giving them the opportunity to choose either to line up under his new dynasty or to try & rescue Ahab’s.
4But they were exceedingly afraid, and said, “Look, 2 kings could not stand up to him; how then can we stand?” 5And he who was in charge of the house, and he who was in charge of the city, the elders also, and those who reared the sons, sent to Jehu, saying, “We are your servants, we will do all you tell us; but we will not make anyone king. Do what is good in your sight.” 6Then he wrote a 2nd letter to them, saying: If you are for me and will obey my voice, take the heads of the men, your master’s sons, and come to me at Jezreel by this time tomorrow. Now the king’s sons, 70 persons, were with the great men of the city, who were rearing them. 7So it was, when the letter came to them, that they took the king’s sons and slaughtered 70 persons, put their heads in baskets and sent them to him at Jezreel. 8Then a messenger came and told him, saying, “They have brought the heads of the king’s sons.” And he said, “Lay them in 2 heaps at the entrance of the gate until morning.”
As long as any of these sons of Ahab lived they presented a threat to Jehu so he had them executed.
By causing the officials & elders to do the deed, he was forever linking them to himself.
9So it was, in the morning, that he went out and stood, and said to all the people, “You are righteous. Indeed I conspired against my master and killed him; but who killed all these? 10Know now that nothing shall fall to the earth of the word of the Lord which the Lord spoke concerning the house of Ahab; for the Lord has done what He spoke by His servant Elijah.”
Ahab’s house was erased.
11So Jehu killed all who remained of the house of Ahab in Jezreel, and all his great men and his close acquaintances and his priests, until he left him none remaining.
This was a campaign of complete eradication. There was to be nothing left of Ahab’s dynasty, including even those who’d become a part of his religious & political system.
12And he arose and departed and went to Samaria. On the way, at Beth Eked of the Shepherds, 13Jehu met with the brothers of Ahaziah king of Judah, and said, “Who are you?” So they answered, “We are the brothers of Ahaziah; we have come down to greet the sons of the king and the sons of the queen mother.”
Meaning Jezebel & the 70 guys Jehu had just had offed.
As brothers of King Ahaziah, who was the son of Athaliah, the grand-daughter of Ahab & Jezebel, at lest some of these guys would also be descendants of Ahab.
So by these words, they signed their death warrant.
14And he said, “Take them alive!” So they took them alive, and killed them at the well of Beth Eked, 42 men; and he left none of them.
15Now when he departed from there, he met Jehonadab the son of Rechab, coming to meet him; and he greeted him and said to him, “Is your heart right, as my heart is toward your heart?” And Jehonadab answered, “It is.” Jehu said, “If it is, give me your hand.” So he gave him his hand, and he took him up to him into the chariot. 16 Then he said, “Come with me, and see my zeal for the Lord.” So they had him ride in his chariot. 17 And when he came to Samaria, he killed all who remained to Ahab in Samaria, till he had destroyed them, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke to Elijah.
Jeremiah 35 tells us this Jehonadab was the leader of a group of nomadic Jews who remained faithful to Yahweh.
Instead of settling down in cities or towns, they retained their identity as nomadic shepherds.
They abhorred the idolatry that took over first in Israel and later in Judah.
Jehu saw in Jehonadab a potential ally and invited him to come with him to the capital to witness his cleaning house.
18Then Jehu gathered all the people together, and said to them, “Ahab served Baal a little, Jehu will serve him much.
This is a clever little piece of determining loyalty.
Jehu wants to know if the loyalty of the people is one based in character & virtue or is simply politically expedient.
19Now therefore, call to me all the prophets of Baal, all his servants, and all his priests. Let no one be missing, for I have a great sacrifice for Baal. Whoever is missing shall not live.” But Jehu acted deceptively, with the intent of destroying the worshipers of Baal.
There’s going to be a great sacrifice to Baal alright – just not what his followers thought.
20And Jehu said, “Proclaim a solemn assembly for Baal.” So they proclaimed it. 21Then Jehu sent throughout all Israel; and all the worshipers of Baal came, so that there was not a man left who did not come. So they came into the temple of Baal, and the temple of Baal was full from one end to the other.
This was a huge complex there in Samaria. It gives you an idea of just how influential Jezebel was that she could get a temple complex of this magnitude built.
Leslie Hazelton thinks this is one of the greatest tragedies in history because all of poor Jezebel’s hard work & broad-minded reforms went down the tubes.
29However Jehu did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had made Israel sin, that is, from the golden calves that were at Bethel and Dan.
As we’ve said before – these calves where thought to be representatives of Yahweh.
So Jehu removed the idols of “other gods” from Israel, but he didn’t get rid of all the idols – he kept those that were politically expedient to hang on to.
This is akin to the work of the Reformers like Luther, Zwingli, & Calvin.
They rejected the idolatry & pagan practices that had crept into the Roman church, but they held on to many of the old beliefs drawn from Greek Philosophy that distorted their understanding of God & His grace.
30And the Lord said to Jehu, “Because you have done well in doing what is right in My sight, and have done to the house of Ahab all that was in My heart, your sons shall sit on the throne of Israel to the 4th generation.”
Hearing that, we would hope that Jehu would both rejoice, & show concern à Why just 4 generations; why not longer?
And hearing why not longer, because he didn’t take the reforms far enough, God’s amazing grace would move him to go even farther.
But Jehu made the blunder so many do when they’re the recipients of God’s grace – instead of repenting as he ought, he got lazy & figured he’d gone far enough.
And once he decided to stop pressing forward in grace, the inevitable happened, he started moving backward.
31But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart; for he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam, who had made Israel sin.
There’s no standing still in spiritual things.
As we saw Sunday, either we set our minds on spiritual things & go farther in the Spirit, or we set our minds on fleshly things & move backward.
Jehu moved backward.
32In those days the Lord began to cut off parts of Israel; and Hazael conquered them in all the territory of Israel 33from the Jordan eastward: all the land of Gilead—Gad, Reuben, and Manasseh—from Aroer, which is by the River Arnon, including Gilead and Bashan.
The Syrians conquered the entire north TransJordan area where 2½ of the tribes of Israel lived.
34Now the rest of the acts of Jehu, all that he did, and all his might, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? 35So Jehu rested with his fathers, and they buried him in Samaria. Then Jehoahaz his son reigned in his place. 36 And the period that Jehu reigned over Israel in Samaria was 28 years.
And during that entire time, though he witnessed one defeat after another, with more & more territory being taken away, he never repented.
He remained committed to his foolish political policy of religious compromise.